University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Pauline A. Young

1924 - 1988

Manuscript Collection Number: 256
Accessioned: Gift of Pauline A. Young, 1991.
Extent: 1 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, articles and essays, photographs, programs and brochures, biographical material, and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: February 1999 by Arthur Siegel.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Pauline Young

Pauline Young was born c. 1900 in West Medford, Massachusetts, moving to Wilmington, Delaware, where she attended kindergarten through high school graduation at the Howard School. Her aunt was the poet, educator, and activist Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935), who was married to the renowned poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).

Young received her bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1921, going on to earn a master's degree in Library Science at Columbia University. She worked intermittently at Howard High School as a librarian from 1919-1955, also teaching for a time at the University of Southern California and working on the press staff of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. After she retired, she served in the Peace Corps, training librarians in Jamaica from 1962-1964. Young remained active upon her return from the Peace Corps, continuing to substitute teach and lecture, as well as participate in the many organizations with which she was affiliated. She was a lifetime member of the Association for the Study of Afro- American Life and History. In addition, she served for a time as president of the Delaware chapter of the NAACP, as well as Chair of the state NAACP education committee. She was involved in the League of Women Voters and the American Federation of Teachers, and she received numerous awards throughout her lifetime for her work in education and black history.

Pauline Young grew up in a household that was deeply involved in the civil rights and suffragist movements, and this inspired her own outlook and activist tendencies. She was extremely interested in African-American history, especially that of Delaware, as she felt that this historical perspective had been sorely neglected in local schools. In response to the need for general enlightenment in African-American history, Young contributed to Henry Clay Reed's three-volume Delaware: A History of the First State (1947), with a piece entitled "The Negro of Delaware: Past and Present." She was an avid collector of "African Americana," determined that her collections could be used as a springboard for serious research into black history and culture. These collections served as the basis of the memorabilia room that was established in Howard High School, where she worked for thirty-six years. Young was a tireless fighter against what she viewed as injustice and inequality, and in 1965 took part in Martin Luther King's march in Alabama. Pauline Young died in June, 1991.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, to Joshua Dunbar and Matilda Murphy, both former slaves in Kentucky. Dunbar was an only child, and was educated in Dayton's public school system. He displayed a talent for writing at an early age, serving as president of the literary society in high school, as well as editor of the monthly school paper. He also wrote numerous poems, which were occasionally published in local newspapers. In 1893 he published his first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, which was followed in 1895 by his second book, Majors and Minors, and Lyrics of Lowly Life, published by Dodd, Mead, & Company in 1896. These works were widely popular, and displayed Dunbar's interest and talent in addressing themes of African-American life. In 1897, Dunbar was given a position as an assistant at the Library of Congress, and over the next year he utilized his free time to continue writing and to present public readings of his work. Such an intense schedule took a toll on his health, however, and in 1899 Dunbar and his new wife, Alice Ruth Moore (whom he had married on March 6th of the previous year), moved to Colorado with the hope that the new environment would renew his strength. It did not, and his bout with alcoholism, coupled with continued efforts to write and give public lectures, only served to weaken the state of his health. Dunbar died on February 9, 1906 in his birthplace of Dayton, Ohio.

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Alice Dunbar-Nelson [née Alice Ruth Moore] was born July 19, 1875 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Monroe and Patsy Wright Moore. Her mother was a former slave on a Texas plantation, and her father was a white seaman who abandoned the family while she was still a young child. After high school, Alice enrolled in a teacher's training course at Straight College in New Orleans, one of only three colleges for blacks in the city that were established during Reconstruction, and was graduated in the spring of 1892. By 1894, she was working as a bookkeeper and typewriter for Paragon Publishing Company, and had secured a teaching position at Old Marigny School. She had also begun to take an active interest in politics, serving as secretary and inspector for the Women's Rights Committee in Louisiana and Mississippi.

In 1897 Alice moved to West Medford, Massachusetts, where her family had been living for some time. Though she did not remain there for long, she nevertheless joined the many black families who migrated to the north in the last years of the nineteenth century in search of greater freedom and opportunity. She enrolled in additional education classes at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, and continued teaching as well, eventually finding a job in 1902 as head of the English Department at Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware. Shortly after leaving New Orleans, Alice met the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, whom she married on March 6, 1898. They had a rather turbulent relationship, strained by constant relocation and Dunbar's alcoholism, and in 1902 they separated.

Alice Dunbar-Nelson was extremely active in education and civil rights, taking particular interest in the suffragist movement and working as an anti-lynching crusader. As were many blacks in the early twentieth century, Alice was a fervent Republican, for this was the party of Abraham Lincoln. In later life she frequently railed against the Democratic party and its New Deal policies, and was the first black woman appointed to the Republican State Committee of Delaware. Indeed, her involvement in political and civil rights issues was so deep that she was dismissed from her position at Howard High School in 1920, the Board of Directors being uncomfortable with her dual role as educator and activist.

Dunbar-Nelson served in a number of organizations concerned with the advancement and improvement of conditions for blacks, including the National Association of Colored Women from 1897-1898, and the Circle for Negro War Relief during World War I. Moreover, as her niece Pauline Young was to do, Alice Dunbar-Nelson pressed for the improvement of the way black history was taught in the schools. In 1934, Alice Dunbar-Nelson suffered a heart attack, and died in September of the following year.


Dictionary of American Biography. ed. Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone. vol III. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958.

Note: Historical and biographical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Pauline A. Young Collection includes material either gathered or written by the Delaware educator and activist Pauline A. Young (1900-1991), much of which relates to prominent poets Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) and Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935). The collection itself consists of one linear foot of material comprising correspondence, periodical clippings and photocopies, photographs, brochures, programs, and ephemera. The collection is divided into four main series: I. Correspondence, II. Articles and publications, III. Biography, and IV. Ephemera.

The first series spans the period 1924-1985, and contains correspondence primarily concerning Pauline A. Young, with several transcribed letters written to Paul Laurence Dunbar by Rebekah Baldwin between 1893 and 1895.

The second series spans the period 1925-1988, and contains several complete journals, numerous clippings and photocopies of articles, brochures, and programs for symposia and performances.

The third series spans the period 1971-1980, and contains biographical works about Alice Dunbar-Nelson, an autobiographical sketch by Pauline A. Young, and material concerning biographical stage performances of the life and work of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

The fourth series spans the period 1935-1983, and contains miscellaneous items pertaining to Pauline A. Young, such as personal notes, photographs, royalty statements, and material from Howard High School. Also included are items pertaining to Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson, such as material from the Dunbar School in Washingtoon, D.C., and Delta Sigma Theta, a sorority to which Alice Dunbar-Nelson belonged.

Much of the material in the collection pertains to Pauline A. Young, including a large body of correspondence that she maintained with various publishing companies, particularly with Dodd, Mead & Company. She waged a tireless campaign throughout much of her life to get works of both Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Paul Laurence Dunbar published, and this effort is reflected in these letters. In 1965, Pauline Young was embroiled in a copyright conflict over The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Little Brown Baby, which had been published by Dodd, Mead & Company. The copyright had expired, and Dodd, Mead was no longer under any obligation to pay royalties to Pauline Young, which they subsequently stopped doing once they realized that the poems were being published elsewhere without permission. An angry and disbelieving Young filed a request at the Library of Congress to search the copyright registry for Dunbar's works, and to get information regarding copyright law. The letters from this period primarily concern this conflict, as well as Young's correspondence with the U.S. Copyright Office. In addition, the correspondence, particularly that of her later years, reflects Young's varied political and social interests, and several letters were from researchers requesting historical information regarding lives of both Nelson and Dunbar.

Much of the remaining material consists of clippings and photocopies of articles pertaining to Young, Dunbar-Nelson, and Dunbar, as well as institutions with which they had been associated. Several of the articles were written by Pauline Young herself. Articles dealing with issues of African-American culture and history comprise a small but significant component of the collection, significant in that an understanding and appreciation of African-American culture and history was the life's work of Pauline Young. Of interest are some of the complete publications of African-American periodicals which are included in the collection, including Freedomways, Negro Digest, and The Crisis. In addition, the collection includes a 1935 issue of the Pittsburgh Courier, the most renowned African-American newspaper of its time. As African-Americans were excluded from working in the white press, newspapers like the Courier were important in training black journalists, in focusing on affairs of the African-American community that were largely ignored in the mainstream papers, and in advocating civil rights.

The collection also contains a large number of programs, from symposia on the life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar to a 1973 graduation ceremony at Howard High School and performances by Joseph Mydell, who portrayed Dunbar on stage in "Lyrics of the Hearthside." The brochures generally concern institutions or events dealing with African-American culture and history, such as a catalogue of works from an African-American art exhibition, or the Black Press Archives of Howard University. Moreover, Alice Dunbar-Nelson's life is minutely detailed in a biographical narrative, written as a master's thesis in 1977 for Lincoln University by Anita L. McGruder.

Related collections:

MS 113 Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers.

MS 250 Dodd, Mead & Company Archive.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

  Series I. Correspondence, 1924-1985  (212 items)

Many of the letters from 1935-1958 concern Pauline Young's futile attempts to get "The Lofty Oak," a novel written by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, published. The manuscript of "The Lofty Oak" is available in MS 113 Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers. Young corresponded for many years with the Dodd, Mead Publishing Company, which published a number of works by both Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Paul Laurence Dunbar. A number of the letters from the 1960s also concern a conflict between Young and Dodd, Mead over the issue of copyrights and the payment of royalties. F1 1924-1935 (11 items) Personal correspondence and with various publishing companies. Many are letters of sympathy concerning the death of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. F2 1936-1939 (28 items) Correspondence with publishing companies, including Dodd Mead, Bobbs-Merrill, the Frederick A. Stokes Company, The Associated Publishers, Inc., Atlantic Monthly Press, Dorrance & Company, and Viking Press. Also included is a railway receipt and a postcard with an ad for a play entitled "Loyalties." F3 1940-1949 (6 items) Includes correspondence from Pauline's uncle Bob [Nelson, who was Alice Dunbar-Nelson's third husband], Herbert R. Cain, Jr., and publishing companies Dodd Mead and Paul R. Reynolds & Son. Also included is a letter regarding the Nelson estate. F4 1950-1958 (13 items) Much of the correspondence is with Winifred M. Jones, but also includes letters from Dodd Mead, and a one-page typed introduction to "Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Portrait with Letters." F5 1965-1969 (21 items) Includes personal correspondence regarding forthcoming publications, letters from Dodd Mead, the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, the Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia, and a two-page letter regarding Paul Laurence Dunbar from Marion M. Gray and Carolyn Acker Ball of SUNY Buffalo, dated 19 Mar 1969. F6 1970-1972 (14 items) Includes personal correspondence; several lists of poems; and letters from the Greater Los Angeles Urban Coalition, Ebony magazine, Morgan State College, and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc. F7 1973 (32 items) Most of the personal correspondence concerns publication of the letters written between Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Also included are letters from the Library of Congress; the Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia; the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Inc. (formerly the ASNLH); and information regarding the Paul Laurence Dunbar - Langston Hughes Celebration (2 Apr 1973). F8 1974 (27 items) Includes personal correspondence and letters from publishing companies, as well as letters from the ASALH; two copies of a movie review in "The Booklist"; and two letters to Pauline Young from the Amistad Research Center of New Orleans. Attached to one of the letters from the Amistad Research Center are photocopied letters, one written to Alice Dunbar-Nelson in 1922 and one written by her in 1935. F9 1975-1977 (16 items) Personal correspondence, as well as a letter of inquiry from a graduate student at Penn State regarding a 1901 letter written by Paul Laurence Dunbar; correspondence with Trazok Publishing, Inc.; business and advertising cards of Trazok Publishing; and a letter from Walter L. Moody to James H. Sills, Jr. regarding the appointment of Pauline Young to the Forum Planning group of the NAACP, Wilmington branch. F10 1978-1979 (9 items) Includes personal correspondence, as well as correspondence with Bernice Cosey Pulley, the founder of Trazok Publishing); a Christmas card from the Pulley family; an advertisement card of Trazok Publishing; a letter from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. F11 1980-1985 (16 items) Personal and miscellaneous correspondence. Also included are several letters from artist Charles L. Haywood, written on letterhead of the Dunbar Museum, Inc. in Los Angeles, and a letter from the Amistad Research Center. F12 Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1893-1895 (19 items) Typed transcriptions of letters written to Dunbar by Rebekah Baldwin from 23 Sep 1893 to 30 Jul 1895. Series II. Articles and Publications, 1925-1988 (108 items) Includes photocopies and clippings from various periodicals. These articles concern mainly the lives and work of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Pauline Young, as well as black history and culture. Separate folders are maintained for brochures and programs. Also included are several complete issues of journals. F13 Negro Digest, 1968 (2 items) Includes the June 1968 and Sept/Oct 1968 issues. F14 The Crisis, 1969-1977 (4 items) Includes the entire March, 1969 issue; a photocopy of the cover of the Aug/Sep 1974 issue as well as a four-page article entitled "Women, Too, in American History"; clippings of the four-page article "Believable Black History," from the February 1977 issue; and a photocopy of an advertisement from the magazine. F15 Freedomways, 1972 (1 item) Volume 12 #4, 1972 (Fourth Quarter). Includes a special section on Paul Laurence Dunbar, and an article written by Pauline Young. F16 Report, 1978 (59 pp.) "Report on the Project: A Symposium on the Life and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar," February 9, 1978. Compiled by Dr. Gossie Harold Hudson, Professor of History and Program Director at Morgan State University. F17 Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1959-1984 (38 items) Includes numerous photocopies and clippings about Dunbar from newspapers and magazines. Also included are several news releases by City College in New York regarding a celebration of the works of Dunbar and Langston Hughes, and several transcriptions of Dunbar's "Black Samson of Brandywine." F18 Alice Dunbar-Nelson, 1929-1988 (12 items) Includes photocopies and clippings about Nelson from newspapers and magazines, as well as a paper cover from "Romances of the Negro in American History / Dramatic Episodes in Our History / Told by / Aliceruth Dunbar Nelson." (n.d.) F19 Pauline Young, 1956-1985 (8 items) Includes photocopies and clippings regarding Young from newspapers and magazines. Also included is an issue of Taproot (November 1985). F20 Miscellaneous Articles & Publications, 1925-1984 (29 items) Various photocopies and clippings of articles concerning African-American history and culture, including a page from the Pittsburgh Courier (2 Nov 1935); several New Yorker articles; a two-page transcript of the views of Senator Bill Roth regarding court-ordered busing, from the Congressional Record; and excerpts from the "Forbidden Diary," by Natalie Crouter. Also included is a photocopy of a letter from the National Urban League, dated 1 Mar 1925. F21 Brochures and Programs -- Paul Laurence Dunbar, c. 1972-1978 (13 items) Includes a brochure for "The Centenary Celebration of the Life and Work of Paul Laurence Dunbar" (2-6 Nov 1972); two brochures of the Washington Flower Garden Guild, Inc., in honor of Dunbar; a brochure of the Ohio Historical Society (which makes reference to the Dunbar House); a reminder ticket for a performance of "Remembrance," at the Tenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. (14 Jul 1978); an invitation to a symposium on the life and works of Dunbar at Morgan State University (9 Feb 1978); a seminar program (n.d.); two copies of a program for "A Dunbar Recital: An Evening with Negro Poets" (n.d.); and three copies of a pamphlet for "Life and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar," hosted by the Friends of the Wilmington Library (n.d.). F22 Brochures and Programs -- Pauline Young, 1974 & 1984 (3 items) Includes two programs from Afro-American History Week at the Pierre S. DuPont High School (1974); and a program from the Christiana Cultural Arts Center's celebration of Black History Month (February 1984). This latter program includes references to Pauline Young. Series III. Biography, 1971-1980 (25 items) Includes biographical works about Alice Dunbar-Nelson, as well as a short autobiographical draft written by Pauline Young. Also included are several items regarding Joseph Mydell, who portrayed Paul Laurence Dunbar in his stage performance "Lyrics of the Hearthside." F23 Joseph Mydell on Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1977-1980 (14 items) Photocopies of articles and programs concerning Mydell and his performances. Programs include performances presented by the Directional Concepts Dance Theatre Foundation, Inc. (1977); The Jersey City Public Library and the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs (n.d.); Prima Mobile, the Ph.D. Program in Theatre at the Graduate School [university unidentified] (n.d.); and the Edinburgh Festival (1980). Also included is a set of publicity photographs of Mydell. F24 Alice Dunbar-Nelson -- Biography, c.1971 (9 items) Includes a thirty-three page typed draft of "Alice Dunbar-Nelson: Delaware Writer and Woman of Affairs," written by Gloria T. Hull, visiting professor at the University of Delaware, and several typed copies of biographical information relating to Nelson. F25 Alice Dunbar-Nelson -- Thesis, 1977 (1 item) A ninety-three page photocopy of a Master's Thesis, written by Anita McGruder at Lincoln University, entitled "Alice Dunbar-Nelson: A Biography." This work provides a very detailed history of her life. F26 Pauline Young, n.d. (3pp.) A typed autobiography entitled "A Confession." Corrections in pencil. Series IV. Ephemera, 1935-1983 (314+ items) This series includes many items pertaining to Pauline Young, such as personal notes, royalty statements, photographs, material from Howard High School, and organizations to which she belonged. Other items pertain to Alice Dunbar-Nelson (who was made an honorary member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1918) and Paul Laurence Dunbar (after whom a high school in Washington D.C. was named). F27 Delta Sigma Theta, 1967-1981 (8 items) Includes a Founder's Day Ceremonies program (22 Jan 1967); a program for a Social Action Luncheon, held at the Sheraton-Charles Hotel in New Orleans, with Vernon E. Jordan as a speaker (4 Jun 1968); program for the 60th National Founder's Day, Delaware Alumnae Chapters (1973); a copy of the Delta Small Talk newsletter (February 1981); a one-page letter to Pauline Young regarding the sorority; and photocopies of several journal articles. F28 Dunbar High School, 1957 & 1978-1979 (18 items) The school opened in Washington D.C. on April 12, 1977. Included in this folder is a twelve-page article in the New Yorker (20 Mar 1978); a one-page letter by Pauline Young to the students, faculty, and staff of the new school (5 Apr 1979); a booklet for the Dunbar High School Open House (22 Apr 1979) and five copies of the program; four mimeographed copies of invitations to the open house; issue of the high school newspaper Newsreel (18 Apr 1979); a greeting card to Pauline Young from the "high school students of yesteryears" (22 Apr 1979); a business card of Victoria T. Street, member of the Board of Education in Washington, D.C.; a postcard; and photocopies of articles. F29 Dunbar Museum, 1979 & n.d. (3 items) Includes a photocopy of the program from the Dunbar Historical Museum, Inc. (located in Los Angeles) Garden Tea, as well as an invitation (29 Jul 1979). Also included is a seven-page informational booklet describing the Dunbar Museum (n.d.). F30 Guest Book, 1954 (4 items) These items pertain to a luncheon held in the Crystal Room of Strawbridge and Clothier in Philadelphia to honor the memory of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (23 Jan 1954). Included are two newspaper clippings, a typed poem entitled "This Lofty Oak," and a guest book partially filled with the signatures and addresses of the attendees. The book is red, hard-cover, with ribbon along the spine. F31 Howard High School, 1971-1973 (13 items) Includes a photocopy of the Wilmington Morning News article "Hardest Battle was Fight for Education Rights" (20 Feb 1971); an issue of the school newspaper, Howard Highlights (June 1973); seven copies of the Senior Class Night program (8 Jun 1973); two copies of the graduation program (10 June 1973); an announcement card; and a two-page news release regarding money given to the school heritage project. F32 New Orleans, 1935-1982 (13 items) Various photocopies and clippings of articles relating to New Orleans, including a seventy-nine page New Yorker article entitled "The Zulus" (20 Jun 1964), and a six-page Travel article entitled "New Orleans: Step by Step through the Crescent City" (February 1971). F33 Cookbook, 1974 (1 item) "Louisiana's Fabulous Foods and How to Cook Them" (80 pp.). Autographed to Pauline Young by Grace Schafer. F34 Photographs, c. 1982 (28 items) Includes twelve photographs and fifteen negatives of Pauline Young. Also included is an invoice for developing the photographs, dated 2 Aug 1982. F35 Pierians, 1951-1972 (7 items) Founded by Alice Dunbar-Nelson in 1932, the Pierians was a Wilmington social club dedicated to the discussion and proliferation of the arts. Pauline Young was also a member. Included is a one-page list of hostesses and activities planned for 1951-1952, a program and invitation to a luncheon given in honor of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (23 Jan 1954), an invitation and catalogue for an exhibition on Black Matri-Images (presented by the Pierians and the Morgan State College Gallery of Art on 3 Dec 1972), and two Pierians information booklets. F36 Pauline Young Notes, n.d. (ca. 100 items) A large collection of typed and hand-written notes, mostly scrawled on scrap paper, and all of which are undated. Included are also three pages of photocopied notes, and a small spiral notebook. F37 Pauline Young Notes, n.d. (86 items) A miscellaneous collection of hand-written notes. F38 Royalty Statements, 1944-1953 (35 items) All are from M. Whitmark & Sons of New York City to Pauline Young for "Who Knows" (book?). Royalties were collected over the period 25 Nov 1944 to 28 Nov 1953. F39 Miscellaneous, 1955-1983 (10 items) Includes two bookmarks; an informational pamphlet on the Detroit Public Library's "E. Azalia Hackley Memorial Collection of Negro Music, Dance, and Drama" (1955); a brochure from the Black Press Archives of Howard University (1978); a photocopy of an article entitled "Howard University has Hope of New Law Building" (n.d.); a "Certificate of Honorary Membership" given to Nelson from Delaware State College's Black Studies Program (28 Feb 1983); an invitation to a National Parade, Flag-Raising Ceremony, and Fireworks Display (5 Aug 1962); a United States Post Office poster bearing a verse of Paul Laurence Dunbar; and two portraits of Dunbar.

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